Parish Council

Below are the biographies of the members of the St. Gertrude Parish Council. If you are visiting St. Gertrude, these are some of the friendly faces you can talk to first to get to know the parish better as well. To help you get to know them, they have answered three questions:

  • How long have you been in the Parish?
  • Which Mass do you attend?
  • What is it about St. Gertrude that speaks to you?


Bob Backis

I have been a member of St. Gert's for 28 years.

My wife Carolyn and I usually attend the 10:00 am Eucharist.

More than anything else, the ways in which we, as a community of disciples of Jesus, strive to create a "big tent" in which all are welcome draws me. My wife and I are deeply rooted in our faith community and school, where Carolyn teaches second grade. This is where we have formed deep friendships, have celebrated and cried, and have found witnesses to the power of the Resurrection. 


Carlos Barragan

How long have you been in the Parish? 

15 years

Which Mass do you attend?

10:00 am Mass. 

What is about St Gertrude that speaks to your heart? 
When I speak of or think about St. Gertrude's, I think of how we reach out to our community with our many ministries. To the young and the elderly, alike. We take into account the variety of peoples that make up Edgewater and the adjoining communities. When I say that "All Are Welcome" at St. Gertrude's, I get all choked up....because we mean it, and we live it!


Norm Bowers

14 years in the parish

Attend 5:00 mass



Chris Curran

'I’ve been a member of the parish since 2011.

I attend the 10:00 am mass.

I appreciate a community which is open, diverse and welcoming. I feel St. Gertrude has been this--and can continue to grow in this area too. I love the beauty of the church, the stained glass, and the music!


Colleen Fulkerson

It's been my pleasure to be a member of St. Gertrude for the past eight years.

We have loved the welcoming nature of this parish which demonstrates great vibrancy and a spirit of compassion and love.


Denise Goodman

I have been a member of the parish for about 18 years. 

I usually attend the 5:00 pm, sometimes the 8:00 a Mass.

St. Gertrude speaks to my heart in a lot of ways.  It's a warm and welcoming community that both prays and lives the Gospel. 

St. Francis said, "Preach the Gospel daily; if necessary use words." I think that about says it.


Karen Griebel

I've attended services at St Gertrude for about 15 years and through the parish RCIA process, became a Catholic in 2015.

I was attracted to St. Gertrude by its varied outreach programs and of course the stained glass windows! The most important emphasis I find here is living the Gospel of Jesus in Edgewater: "All Are Welcome."

I often serve as a Eucharistic Minister at the 11:30 am mass.


Forest Ingram

My wife (Ann) and I were members of the parish for about 25 years before her tragic death from colon cancer on 10/30/15.

Ann & I usually attended 11:30 am mass. Since her death, I attend 9:30 am mass at St. Gertrude's East where I read once a month, and 7:30 am mass daily at the Church where I read once a week.

I admire all those who contribute to St. Gertrude's - the pastors, the staff, and organizers of various groups, the heads of programs the participants in liturgical services and programs to help others, the sense of togetherness, everything that reflects the spirit of  God


Steve Matre

How long have you been in the Parish?    Nine years

Which Mass do you attend?  I read at the Saturday 5:00 pm or 11:30 am Sunday Masses; other weekends attend whichever fits best in my schedule. 

What is about St Gertrude that speaks to your heart?  The central theme of everything we do seems to be the community; building a strong, connected community and being thanked every Sunday for being there is special to me; the importance of everyone's presence is a continual focus.


Marty McDermott

I have been a member of St. Gertrude Parish for most of my 58 years on God’s earth.  My wife Brigid Cronin and I attend the 8:00 am mass on Sundays. St Gertrude has been part of my family’s life since my father’s family moved onto Glenwood Avenue in 1919.

 My mother's family moved to 1400 Highland Avenue in 1929.  My parents raised 10 children in this Parish, all attended St Gertrude School.  Many of my siblings married in the Church, and sadly, some were eulogized, too.  I was a teacher and a basketball coach at the school.

 The lessons I have learned through my association with St. Gertrude is that in good times and bad, it has been my sanctuary-my rock.

What speaks to my heart about St. Gertrude is its ability to always be so welcoming to all who visit, Its dedication to diversity, the way it touches all who worship, and its commitment to its children. St. Gertrude Church has proven it could sustain the value of giving direction to so many for so long.


Sarah Millar

How long have you been in the Parish?

12 years. My husband and I have been parishioners at St. Gertrude since we moved into the neighborhood in 2004. Our children, who are currently in school at NCA, were also baptized at St. Gertrude.

Which Mass do you attend?

Usually, the 10:00 am, but we sometimes attend other masses depending on schedules (e.g., sports practice, travel, etc.).

What is it about St Gertrude that speaks to your heart? 

I find St. Gertrude parish inspiring. The people of St. Gertrude are moved by a deeply felt love of God which calls them to be Christ in action.  What I see and experience through this parish strengthens my personal relationship with God and constantly challenges me to more fully put my faith in action.


Debra Novak

I have been attending mass at St. Gertrude's since 2010, but officially became a registered parishioner in 2014.

I attend the Sunday, 10:00 a.m. mass.

What love most about St. Gertrude's is that when I first started attending masses here, it was at a very challenging and low point in my life and as unworthy as I felt being in the presence of the Lord in His house, I also felt an overabundance of love, acceptance, and community. I felt so welcome and at home, that it brought me the peace and strength I needed to continue on my spiritual journey. I can't help but smile when I walk through those front doors. It is my favorite part of my week.


Ruth Ott

I have been in the parish for about 20 years.

I serve as a lector and Eucharistic Minister at the 10:00 Mass, but will go to other Masses depending on our family’s schedule.

St. Gertrude's is special to me because it is a community of spiritual seekers, full of people from whom I can learn deeper spirituality.  My husband and I raised our children at St. Gertrude’s, and I am grateful that they have a spiritual home.


Gail Smith

My husband, Paul, and I have been part of St Gertrude Parish for 30 years and have raised our daughter, Margaret here as well.

We typically attend the 10:00 am Mass on Sundays.

When I first began coming to Mass here, I was struck by how the Gospel spoke to me. I quickly found that the challenge of the Gospel was intentionally the central focus for the parish which was expressed in so many ways, and has remained so for 30 years.  It is a compelling and mysterious blueprint for life and I am grateful to be part of a community that longs to live it.   


Allen Stryczek

My wife Suzanne and I have attended St. Gertrude since 1981, the year we were married.   We feel that we have been active in the parish since 1983 - after the "Christ Renews His Parish" weekends for women and men respectively.

We most often attend the 10:30 am Gym Mass.   At times we also go either the 8:00 am or 10:00 am Mass. When making a presentation, we also sometimes go to the 5:00 pm Saturday, 9:30 am St. Gertrude East, or the 11:30 am Masses.

St. Gertrude is a community of faith in which "All are Welcome".  We worship together, we pray together in faith sharing groups and other collaborative gatherings, and we encourage each other in our individual faith walks.   We are also a vibrant part of the wonderful Edgewater history of ecumenical and inter-religous gatherings.


Matt Swentkofske

How long have you been in the Parish? 5 ½ years

Which Mass do you attend? 5:00 pm Saturday

What is about St Gertrude that speaks to your heart.? St. Gertrude’s is a special place. For me St. Gertrude’s openness and willingness to accept all people truly reflects Jesus’ teachings and life. It is very renewing to me as a Catholic that St. Gertrude’s reflects His values. It makes me proud to be a Catholic.


Mike Tobin

Dorothea and I joined the parish in 1975, 41 years ago

During the school year, we attend the 10:30 am Mass. During the summer, we go to the 10:00 am or the 11:30 am. 

Many things touch my heart at St. Gertrude. It is a beautiful community of faith. We also sent seven kids to the school, have married four of our daughters, and buried our son Billy here. This is our spiritual home.


Ginger Williams

We have lived in the parish for 29 years and had four children graduate from Northside Catholic Academy.

I actually alternate attending among the four different Masses in the Church, but I guess the most often attended is the 11:30 am.  

The first time I attended Mass at St. Gertrude almost thirty years ago, I knew that this was where I wanted to live.  The parish and school have been central to our lives since then.  It's where I've been nourished, in all ways; where I've laughed during parish plays; where I've cried at funerals; where I've met my friends; where my three daughters were baptized; where I've found the perfect gifts at the Christmas Bazaar; where I can just sit in the church and feel a sense of peace flow over me.  I am grateful to those who created and have sustained such a beautiful place and community.


Michael Winters

Member of St. Gertrude for three years.

Attend 11:30 am Mass on Sunday.

I was drawn to St. Gertrude the first time I visited. The parish's values match up well with mine: A commitment to social justice, a reflective, scholarly study of scripture, and a collaborative approach to governance. St. Gertrude shares a genuine sense of mission with Pope Francis and, more importantly, Christ.


St. Gertrude Parish
1420 West Granville Avenue
Chicago, IL 60660
Phone: (773) 764-3621